By Ben Garcia
KUWAIT: Students returned to schools for the first time in more than 18 months yesterday after several private schools resumed on-campus classes with strict implementation of health protocols. Like most countries around the world, Kuwait shut down schools and universities in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and resorted to online education.
All foreign-language and bilingual schools were permitted to resume in-person classes from yesterday, but many did not reopen due to logistical challenges. Online classes however continue. Public and private Arabic schools will reopen on Oct 3. The maximum capacity for any classroom is 20 students, with students sitting one to two meters apart. Students aged over 12 years and all teachers must be vaccinated, while masks should be worn at all times. Those who choose not to get vaccinated are required to undergo a PCR test every week on Sunday.
Classes are divided into two groups: The first group will go to school on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, while the second group will go on Monday and Wednesday. In the next week, groups will swap attendance, with the second group going on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday and the first on Monday and Wednesday. The groups will continue to alternate on-campus attendance, the minister said. The duration of each period has been extended to one hour from 45 minutes to allow teachers to compensate for any loss in education due to the closure of schools from last year due to the pandemic.
Yesterday, kindergarten and grade 1 and 2 students returned to Al-Ruya Bilingual School in Sabah Al-Salem. Students of other grades will resume on-campus classes tomorrow. “We welcomed our KG and grade 1 and 2 students today in a dry run so we can receive a larger number of students tomorrow,” said Sarah Abu Shanab from the public relations department at Al-Ruya.
“As mandated by the ministry of education, we have resumed hybrid classes; meaning our students will be divided into two groups – one group will be on campus and the other group will be online. They will alternate as we do not want the school to be crowded,” Abu Shanab said.
Some parents were elated to accompany their children to school, but they were not allowed to enter the campus. “My children are in KG and grade 2. One is a new student, while the other was already in school before the pandemic began. We really missed on-campus teaching for our kids. My husband and I are very excited for this day. The school required us to monitor our children during online classes, but it was tough as we are working parents,” a mother accompanying her children told Kuwait Times. “My kids are very excited to come to class today. They woke up early and had breakfast by themselves,” she added.
Asked if she was afraid for the safety of her children, she said: “Honestly speaking, yes. But we cannot keep them inside the house forever. We need to educate our children, and the only way to do that is through traditional on-campus classes. They should interact with other people and their classmates.”
United Indian School also welcomed students of grade 1, 2, 3, 11 and 12. “We will open gradually from today until October 6 to all our students as per the education ministry guidelines,” the school’s Administration Manager John Thomas said. He said all students must come to school based on the hybrid system. “Students with medical issues are excused, but no classes will be conducted online, except on Tuesday, when we will have online classes for all,” he said. Many other private foreign schools will resume in-person classes from Oct 3 onwards.